top of page

FLASH ALERT: ACTIVE SHOOTER INCIDENT IN PRAGUE

William Bos, Victoria Valová, EUCOM 

Elena Alice Rossetti, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor

December 21, 2023


Faculty Of Arts, Charles University, Prague[1]


The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to all law enforcement and students following the shooting at Prague Charles University. The shooter opened fire at around 1500 local time at the Faculty of Arts building of Charles University at Jan Palach Square.[2] The perpetrator was a 24-year-old student at the Faculty of Arts and planned to attend a lecture at a different university building, which the authorities evacuated after the police received a tip of the suspect's intention to commit suicide.[3] The attacker killed his father in Hostouň, a village northwest of Prague, before heading to the capital to commit the mass murder. The perpetrator killed 14 people and injured over 25 at the Faculty of Arts building of Charles University. It is unknown whether he killed himself or the law enforcement eliminated him.[4] Police recovered a large weapons arsenal at the faculty building and stated that the shooter was a legal holder of several firearms. As this is the deadliest shooting in the history of the Czech Republic, law enforcement has adopted nationwide prevention measures to protect soft targets and schools to signal their preparedness to act swiftly in case of any copycat attacks. However, the police are “not aware of any specific threat.”[5]   


CTG is on HIGH alert for the increase in active shooter incidents in the Czech Republic and the HIGH risk of similar attacks targeting other sectors of society. The suspect VERY LIKELY obtained military-grade weapons legally, under the national gun control laws and regulations. The suspect’s anti-social nature is displayed in his social media posts, which VERY LIKELY influenced his motivations to carry out the attack. There is a ROUGHLY EVEN CHANCE of similar incidents happening as the attack will likely inspire other perpetrators.


Introduction


On December 21, a 24-year-old student at Charles University in Prague carried out a mass shooting at around 1500 local time at Jan Palach Square, near the renowned Charles Bridge. Local media believe David Kozak carried out the mass shooting; however, the authorities have not revealed his identity. The assailant killed his father in the morning on the same day in Hostouň, a village northwest of the capital, and the police considered him a person of interest as he was heading to Prague. The police evacuated a different university building where the assailant should have attended a lecture after he revealed his plans to kill himself.[6] At Charles University, the perpetrator killed 14 and injured over 25 individuals in what is the deadliest attack since the establishment of the Czech Republic in 1993. At 1922 local time, police confirmed the “assailant has been eliminated,”[7] but it remains unclear whether he killed himself or if a police officer shot him. The police evacuated the premises and continued searching for explosives throughout the facility,[8] as the assailant legally owned several firearms, and law enforcement found a weapons arsenal at the university.[9] Police revealed that “ballistic expertise has shown a MATCH of the weapon used in Klanovicky forest with the weapon found in the house where the shooter from the university lived.”[10] Law enforcement has adopted nationwide prevention measures to protect soft targets and schools to signal their preparedness in case of any copycat attacks; however, the police are “not aware of any specific threat.”[11] The assailant shared a “diary” on his Telegram channel days before the attack, revealing his plans to “do school shooting and possibly suicide,” praising Alina Afanaskina, who opened fire in a school in Bryansk in December this year, “for helping” him and Ilnaz Galyaviev, responsible for the school shooting in Kazan, Russia, in May 2021, for showing him that it was “much more profitable to do mass murders rather than serial ones.”[12]


Topics


Kozak killed his father at around 1240 local time and made his way toward Charles University. Kozak took position on the northern east side of the Faculty of Arts building and proceeded to lay fire on civilians located in the main square in front of the University, Jan Palach Square.[13] There is a roughly even chance that Kozak used a PSA GEN3 PA-10 RIFLE 18", chambered in .308 or a similar model.[14] The attachments on the weapon are very likely for military use, and Kozak likely had previous knowledge of how to fit them into the main weapon system. Kozak very likely acquired knowledge of tactics and the use of weapons through social media channels, such as Telegram. There is a roughly even chance the weapon belonged to Kozak's father. There is a roughly even chance the weapon belonged to Kozak's father.


Copycats


The attack's success and media attention will almost certainly inspire copycats, as the incident has been the largest mass shooting in the nation's history. CTG has employed the Pathway to Violence[15] matrix to assess the likelihood of a future attack. This matrix outlines six stages individuals undergo before carrying out violent acts. The attacker at Charles University is very likely to inspire individuals with grievances who will very likely celebrate and share their positive thoughts on the shooting on social media platforms, such as X or Telegram, where they will likely garner support from like-minded individuals. A certain group of dissatisfied individuals will likely conduct substantial research regarding potential avenues of attack and will likely share their violent ideations through non-moderated social media platforms. As the laws regulating the acquisition of firearms in the Czech Republic are lax, radicalized individuals are likely to gain access easily, which will likely lead to an increase in attacks on soft targets.

   

CTG recommends that


  • The Counterterrorism Group recommends that law enforcement agencies in the Czech Republic enhance security measures in and around college campuses through checkpoints and increased patrolling.

  • CTG recommends that law enforcement agencies expand their security measures to all universities in Prague.

  • CTG recommends that Charles University halt all activity on social media platforms to prevent the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation until law enforcement and forensic investigations have concluded.

  • CTG recommends that Czech law enforcement agencies monitor social media channels for suspicious activity and content related to this incident.

  • CTG recommends that law enforcement place individuals related to the perpetrator under strict protective security measures as a precaution until investigations have concluded.

  • CTG recommends establishing a direct line in the university for tips and information on the case to report live developments on the incident.

  • CTG recommends to all individuals who intend to share information on this case through social media to practice selective sourcing to prevent the spread of misinformation and disinformation.

  • CTG recommends that social media accounts associated with the university abstain from sharing updates until authorities have concluded their investigations.

  • CTG recommends that universities in the Czech Republic implement Active Shooter training and drills for students to prepare for similar incidents proactively.

  • CTG recommends that universities impart Avoid Deny Defend (ADD) awareness training to enhance the students’ and staff’s capacity to protect themselves

  • CTG recommends that the media avoid focusing on the suspect, as this has the potential to inspire other shooters to act and carry out similar attacks.

  • CTG recommends that the Czech government revise gun control regulations as a measure to prevent similar incidents.


The recommendations and analysis indicate that there is a MODERATE PROBABILITY that similar attacks in the Czech Republic will LIKELY use military-grade weapons as gun control regulations allow for the legal purchase of these weapons. There will LIKELY be a revision of gun control laws and regulations to prevent future attacks from happening. Czech law enforcement and intelligence agencies will VERY LIKELY  monitor social media platforms for suspicious behavior as a preemptive measure for future attacks. Law enforcement is LIKELY to reevaluate its protocols for Active Shooter incidents to enhance its efficiency and response time.


Unlock the Power of Knowledge with The Counter Threat Center! Elevate your threat detection capabilities with critical intelligence on global threats. Join us for a free trial and equip yourself to safeguard those you've sworn to protect.  Click here to learn more: https://www.counterthreatcenter.com/subscriptions 

 

[3] Czech police seek motive behind country's worst mass attack, BBC,  December 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-67797755 

[4] Gunman kills 14 in unprecedented attack at Prague university, Reuters, December 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/prague-university-shooting-leaves-several-dead-police-say-2023-12-21/ 

[6] Czech police seek motive behind country's worst mass attack, BBC,  December 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-67797755 

[8] Gunman opens fire in a Prague university, killing 14 people in Czech Republic’s worst mass shooting, AP, December 2023, https://apnews.com/article/prague-shooting-dead-injured-9a383bc6919c1b0d929cf06aa4818341 

[9] Gunman kills 14 in unprecedented attack at Prague university, Reuters, December 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/prague-university-shooting-leaves-several-dead-police-say-2023-12-21/ 

[11] @PolicieCZ, X, December 22, 2023, https://twitter.com/PolicieCZ/status/1738077508220641729   

[12] CTG Threat Hunter via Telegram

[13] Prague gunman killed himself on roof as police approached, BBC, December 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-67799535

[14] PSA GEN3 PA-10 RIFLE 18" MID-LENGTH .308 1:10 STAINLESS 15" LTWT M-LOK STR 2-STAGE, Palmetto State Armory, December 2023, https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-gen3-pa10-18-mid-length-308-win-1-10-stainless-steel-15-lightweight-m-lok-str-2-stage-rifle6.html

[15] The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) Pathway to Violence by Lydia Baccino

31 views
bottom of page